I’ve always been absolutely useless at saying goodbyes. Even the easy kind. Leaving friends at the pub will often be a fifteen minute hug-fest, then I’ll be halfway out the door when something in my heart will lurch. I’ll turn around with a false memory of having left a tissue strewn on the floor and go back, and instead of picking up my imaginary discarded snotrag, I will sneak another little squeeze in as I jostle through my friends. Or a loving punch. Just a bit more contact for the journey.
Although it sounds like I was left in my cot as a baby for hours without so much as a stale rusk lobbed at my head, I am actually very blessed love-wise; regularly serviced in the soul department by an extensive faculty of wonderful people. But I suppose even people with their emotional needs being tangibly met can still be needy. After all, not even the most adored people on the planet are likely to say one bright April morn “Do you know what? I think I’ve hit my cuddle limit. I’ll be gosh-darned if I haven’t got enough love in the sack til Michaelmas. I am replete. You just stop this shoulder massage right there and give it to Derek the curtain-twitching hermit over the road.” It’s never going to happen; it’s not how humans work.
Perhaps our lives grow to fit the love that comes our way. There is always enough room for more love for or from people, and, unless we’re trying to shake off an annoying ex or a mad stalker, it is always welcome. We don’t measure it out. “I’m sorry, Pleasing Acquaintance, I can’t go for lager-beer with you in case we hit it off and five months down the line, during an impassioned conversation about which Rocky film is the best (2. No discussion.) I get jousted in the heart by a bit of excess friend love and die.” The heart grows as big as we let it.
I came over all angst-ridden yesterday as I said a few goodbyes. I’m going on holiday for two weeks and in amongst all the excitement and faffing and packing (and staring at my passport expiry date trying to remember what year it is with that mania that the enforced bureaucracy of travel evokes), I felt a shadow edge into my heart. I would have to say some goodbyes.
Hot fudge, I suck at them.
Of course it’s probably some innate waily wah-wah stuff like fear of losing people, WAIL, or guilt, BOO, or a sense of leaving things ‘unready’ – “I’m going to crash into the Atlantic and you’re going to have to clear out my room. I have been scrap-booking everything since the age of 9 & you’re going to throw away my collection of funny German T-bags. You probably won’t even find them as hilarious as you should.” WAIL. Maybe it’s more textbook than that. Actual holiday anguish due to my cat, Monty ‘Mental’ Python, getting run over while I was getting quarter-engaged to a tonguey Turk named Erjan in 1996. WAIL. (But probably not, as I’ve only just remembered it.)
Do humans get pre-travel jitters because we know in the heart of our hearts that all this travelling is unnatural? We’re not supposed to fly over seas or traverse huge expanses of land. We’re supposed to do stuff on our feet; stop when we get out of breath and have a nap. We’re not really supposed to go beyond our patch, our cave, the plot marked out by the features that serve our basest needs; food, water, shelter, somewhere a bit private to take a dump. Man’s reach in his physical realm isn’t supposed to exceed his grasp; that is why we dream of heaven and space and the mysterious lands we’ll never get to. We might design ways of closing the gap between us and our curiosities; we’ll always try to harness the stars, push the boundaries of latitude and longitude and other dimensions. We constantly defy nature; our own design. But we are biologically designed for (driven, compelled and nourished by) love.
Maybe that’s why, despite whatever fun we have on our adventures, there’s nothing quite like a cuddle when you come home.